DENVER -- For much of July, the Mets' front office explored trades for an outfielder, not wanting to rush Michael Conforto -- a 2014 first-round Draft pick who was in college as recently as last June -- so quickly to the Majors. It was not until the end of the month that team brass finally caved, promoting Conforto directly from Double-A Binghamton.
It certainly hasn't been for lack of chances. The Mets were ready to option Conforto to Triple-A Las Vegas days after his debut, when they traded for Yoenis Cespedes, but Michael Cuddyer's disabled-list stint bought the rookie a bit more time. A few days later, they actually did option Conforto, but a DL trip for Kirk Nieuwenhuis ensured that he would never cash in his plane ticket. This weekend, in need of an extra reliever, the Mets avoided demoting Conforto when Lucas Duda hit the DL.
Then came Sunday. Because Logan Verrett saved the Mets' bullpen with eight brilliant innings in a 5-1 win over the Rockies, the Mets decided they no longer needed to carry an extra reliever. So rather than ship Conforto out to clear roster space for David Wright -- who is returning from the DL for the series opener in Philadelphia on Monday -- they optioned Dario Alvarez to Vegas.
"It's crazy," said Conforto, the Mets' No. 2 prospect. "The way it's been happening, you don't like to see that, you don't like to see guys going on the DL. But the fact that I'm still here, I'm very excited. It's where I want to be."
It helps that Conforto has exceeded expectations during his big league introduction, punctuating a .258 average and .840 OPS with a string of key home runs and RBIs. On Sunday, Conforto paced the Mets with his second career three-hit game, also scoring once and racking up an outfield assist.
"I think he's very comfortable," manager Terry Collins said. "There was a time -- it wasn't long ago -- where he was pressing a little bit. He was chasing some balls ... and I told him, 'Listen, this is part of the game. So relax and go play.' And God, he's absolutely swung the bat great since."
With rosters set to expand on Sept. 1, odds are now overwhelmingly high that Conforto will remain a big leaguer for the balance of the regular season. If he and the Mets continue to play well, a spot on the playoff roster could be in his future.
A year and a half removed from the quads of his college campus, Conforto is suddenly in no danger of stepping away from the limelight anytime soon.
"I definitely feel comfortable," Conforto said. "Now that the balls are starting to find holes a little bit, I feel a little more settled in."